February 27, 2013

Francie: Running as Grace

Part one of three in a series
As a runner since age 15, my sport has taken me through a lot. From children to divorces to job stress, running has been my saving grace. When I had breast cancer recently, running was again there for me.
Three weeks before my third Ironman, I had surgery to remove breast cancer. I scratched Ironman. I will spare you the grumbling I had about how highly inconvenient this all was, after all, I’m here today in perfect health. You can read more about my experiences in my book, The Competitor in Me II: Conquer Fear. Two weeks to the day I had surgery, I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was time to start running again. On a sunny September day after work, I headed out into the fresh air. The plan was to just run easy and savor the day, the freedom.

The sun’s warmth was marvelous. I didn’t have one moment when I regretted being out there. I praised God for the opportunity and asked Him to keep helping me through my journey. The sidewalk quickly moved past me. So much for worrying about how hard it would be to get moving again. The doubt demons were at it again, telling me I wouldn’t be able to keep running, but my legs put a stop to them.

Running felt so natural and easy. My body craved the warm sun, the breeze in my face. I wanted to be out there for two hours. I settled for 42 glorious minutes. Later, I texted my running partner, Ben. My words are a great summary of that run:

Me: Went running today. I’m not sayin’ it didn’t hurt. I’m not sayin’ it was a mistake. Thrilled.


Grinning, I saved Ben’s text for a very long time. His encouragement came in handy many days.
That day caused a shift in my recovery. Not just the outward shift in getting back into running, but a shift in my perspective. By running for just 42 minutes, there was a noticeable deliverance of grace to my recovery. The day, the week, this recovery no longer felt completely out of my control. I had this.

Running just one day gave me the grace to unlock new hope. It was always in me but there was so much fear in the way, I couldn’t see it. In the days that followed, I felt so renewed and refreshed as I pushed through recovery. How down I had been! It’s true that I had no idea just how bad I felt until I began feeling good. And now I knew the real source of my pain, my flatness. It was a huge shroud of fear. I was unconsciously walking through my days, knowing I was fighting but not what I was fighting. Running crystallized things, and set me on a path to conquer my fear. Stay tuned for part two...

February 26, 2013

Rode the Expresso Bike on Four Routes

Today was a non-running day, and my wife and I went to the gym. She walked about 1.3 miles, and I rode the Expresso bike for 8.95 miles. I rode the Minimum Mayhem (set a PB), Speedway, Redwood Dash, and Fruitdale routes. My wakeup heart rate this morning was 61. I felt pretty good while I rode and pushed the first route for a PB. I started to get tired, though, and couldn't keep up the pace. I missed one PB by eight seconds and 1-2 minutes each on the other two routes.

Weather wise, we had snow flurries this morning. I'm glad I don't live in the mid-west. Those poor folks are really getting battered by the weather. Two blizzards in the same week....

February 25, 2013

Ran/walked For 40 Minutes at the Gym

My wife and I drove to the local gym, and she ran her mile + 1 lap while I ran and walked the indoor track for 40 minutes. I had hoped I could last for 60 minutes, but I could tell I was getting tired, so I stopped. My wakeup heart rate was 54, which is the lowest it has been for several months. However, I only had 4 hours sleep Saturday night, and that lack of sleep got to me after 40 minutes.

I have an anxiety problem that causes me to not sleep very well when I have something important scheduled for early in the morning. My son-in-law came down from Evanston, WY, on Saturday evening, and I drove him to the Salt Lake airport Sunday morning; we left home at 7 am. I slept well the night before until about 4:30, and then I woke up and didn't go back to sleep. Last night (Sunday night) I slept very well, and that, I'm sure, contributed to my low wakeup heart rate this morning.

February 21, 2013

Ran/walked for 60 minutes & rode Expresso Bike

I didn't check my wakeup heart rate this morning. I drove to the Jordan River Parkway about 3 pm and ran/walked for 60 minutes. I felt pretty good when I first started, but after half a mile I could tell my hips and legs were tired. I managed to finish the 60 minutes and did about 3.1 miles, although I did extra walking during the last half of the distance. There was a 7-10 mph breeze blowing from the north, and it was a cold head wind on the way back. The air temperature was 34 (F) when I left home, but it was probably a few degrees below that by the time I finished my workout.

I drove to the gym and rode the Expresso bike for the Fruitdale and Rolling Thunder tours. I didn't push for speed, and I kept the bike in a gear that made it relatively easy to peddle. I like the Fruitdale tour, because it is 4.5 miles of flat riding (no gear changing, and long straightaways before a turn).

I think my legs are still tired from my horrendous ride on Tuesday. I normally would have run/walked yesterday, but I postponed it a day to give my body extra rest. When I was younger, 48 hours between heavy runs was sufficient. As I've gotten older, I'm realizing that I need more time for recovery.

February 19, 2013

Rode the Expresso Bike for 45 minutes

My wakeup heart rate was 58. Today was a no-running day, but my wife and I went to the gym, and she walked her mile while I rode the Expresso bike. I rode the City Express route, my first venture into the Moderate routes. Boy, was that route different. Nothing but hills! Long hills. I had to climb hills with a 40% grade and go down hills with almost that steep of a grade. There were times when I started down a hill, and I couldn't see the road in front of me. I just had to steer blindly for a few seconds. The route was only 4.5 miles long, but it took me twice as long, and I burned twice as many calories, than the routes of about the same distance in the Basic category. I was really tired when I finished!

February 18, 2013

Ran/walked the Parkway and rode Expresso Bike Again

My wakeup heart rate was 56 this morning, and I slept very well last night. With shade temperature in the mid 30s (F), I ran/walked for 60 minutes and did 3.1 miles. Afterwards, I rode the Expresso bike on the Speedway, Rolling Thunder, and Redwood Dash routes (3.5 miles) and set a PB in the Speedway. While running, I used a run/walk ratio of 3 minutes/1 minute and handled that fine for two miles. During the 3rd mile, I ran for about 2.5 minutes and walked for about 1.5 minutes, but during the last part, I went back to the 3/1 ratio. While riding the Expresso bike, I pushed for speed, but my legs were tired from spending 60 minutes on the Parkway, and I didn't ride as fast as I hoped I would. If I ride the bike tomorrow, I want to ride slower and easier so tomorrow will be a true rest day; I won't be running tomorrow. There was a 3-5 mph breeze blowing that was a head wind on the way out and on the way back due to a change in the wind. I wore three layers and felt fine during the early part of the workout but was a bit cold, mainly in my hands, during the latter part due to a decrease in the air temperature.

February 16, 2013

Ran on the JR Parkway and rode the Expresso Bike

My wakeup heart rate was 62 this morning, a bit higher than it has been during the week. I ran for 60 minutes and did 3.15 miles. The temperature was about 40 (F) when I left home. I wore four layers even though I expected the fourth layer might be too much. It was too much during most of my run, but as the sun started to set, I was glad to have the extra layer. I just got home from the gym, and the temperature is 33. When I first started to run, I could tell that my legs were tired, but as my run progressed, my legs felt better. I had my timer set for run/walk times of 3 minutes/1 minute, and I followed those times during the first part of the run. During the middle of the run, I stopped running after about 2 1/2 minutes, but toward the end of the run, I ran the full 3 minutes each cycle.

The Parkway path still has puddles from melting snow, but the path isn't nearly as wet as it was a week ago. We've been having daytime shade temperatures in the low 40s, and that is causing a lot of the snow to melt.

After I completed my run, I drove to the gym and rode the Expresso bike for the Fruitdale route (4.5 miles) and the Speedway route (1 mile). I set a PB for the Fruitdale route, but I missed a PB for the Speedway route by 4 seconds. I could tell that my legs were tired, and my heart rate as measured by the Expresso bike when I first started was higher than it usually is. It got up to 106 during the runs, and that is a new value for my heart rate while exercising. I thus didn't try to set any speed records and kept the bike in a gear that was relatively easy to peddle.

February 15, 2013

Rode the Expresso Bike for 4.5 Miles

Today is a rest day from running. My wife and I went to the gym, and she walked 1 mile while I rode the Expresso bike. I completed 3 courses, Rolling Thunder (1 mile), Redwood Dash (1.5 miles), and Campus Loop (2 miles). I set new PB in all three courses. I pushed quite hard to see how fast I could go around the courses. I've completed all the courses in the Basic category, but before I go to the next category, which has longer routes, I will continue riding the Basic routes to build up my legs.

February 13, 2013

Ran 3 miles & biked 5.5 miles

Today was a green day, and I ran on the Jordan River Parkway, going north from 100th South through the Sandy golf course and up to 7th West and 90th South. I'm using a run/walk ratio of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking, and that ratio worked fine for most of the way. Towards the end, I did reduce the running a bit and increase the walking. I didn't take any rest stops.

Even though the temperature was in the high 30s (F) while I ran, I've been wearing for the past few days a fourth layer of a thick cotton long-sleeved t-shirt that I got in the fall of 1992 while helping provide radio communications for the Fall soccer tournament in Pepperell, MA. When I was younger and was running faster, I would have been comfortable with my usual three layers, but as I get older, I'm more sensitive to temperature, and I needed the fourth layer to make my workout comfortable. I'm running and walking pretty slow.

I saw quite a few ducks in the river, including Mallards, Coots, and a duck I don't remember seeing before. They have black heads, back, and most of their body and a white breast. I think they are Pomeranian ducks. The picture shown below is from the web. Click on the picture for a larger image.

After I finished my run/walk, I went to the gym and ran the Speedway and Fruitdale courses. I set PB in both courses. My heart rate has usually been 80-90 while cycling, but today it got up to 103. Higher than I'd like but still in the comfortable range. My breathing was a steady one peddle in and one peddle out. My wakeup heart rate this morning was 59. The Fruitdale course is the longest of the Basic courses, but it is flat and follows a shoreline. I don't think I changed gears at all during the 4.5 miles.

February 11, 2013

I only had 5 hours sleep last night, so I limited my running on the Jordan River Parkway to 1 mile. After that, I drove to the gym and rode the Expresso bike for 4 miles. I had intended to take a nap before I ran, but I forgot about it and went running shortly before noon. The temperature when I left was 32 (F), but it seemed colder than that. The Parkway path was free of ice, except for a few shady spots, but a lot of water was on the path. Tonight is forecast to be cold, single digits, and then it will get warmer during the week. Today was a green day, and tomorrow is forecast to be a yellow day. The inversion pollution is starting to build up again.

Some people might wonder why I limited my run to 1 mile but rode the Expresso bike for 4 miles (about 21 minutes). The reason is that bike riding works my legs but not the upper part of my body. Hence, I can ride even though I'm tired from lack of sleep.

February 9, 2013

Ran 3 miles on the Jordan River Parkway

Today is a "green" day, although it was snowing during my run/walk. The shade temperature when I left home was 35 (F), and the snow had started about an hour before I left. Because the ground temperature was above freezing, the snow melted as soon as it hit the ground. The Parkway path was wet and had a few large puddles of water, but it was ice-free, and I had no problems traversing the path. On my way back, the snow reduced to fine flurries.

I thought I would be alone on the path, but I saw a couple of runners and a few walkers on the path. It was a nice workout, and I'm glad to be back on the Parkway. The Parkway gets me out into nature instead of inside a noisy gym. The gym is nice, though, when the Parkway path is icy. I also enjoy the Expresso bike at the gym. Daytime temperatures next week are forecast to be below freezing, and I'll probably be in the gym again.

February 8, 2013

Rode 5.4 miles on the Expresso "bike"

Today is a rest day from running, but I went to the rec center and rode the Expresso bike on two tours. I set a PB on the 2-mile Mini Mayhem tour. My heart rate during the rides was 80-90, about right for a LSD ride. This morning, my wakeup heart rate was 60. Yesterday it was 61.

We had rain and snow flurries today, but nothing that remained more than a few seconds, since the air temperature was in the mid 30s (F). We'll probably get more tonight. Tomorrow is forecast to be a "green" day, and I'm looking forward to running on the Jordan River Parkway. The rain and snow flurries are forecast to continue through Sunday. I used to live in Massachusetts, and I'm glad I'm not there right now. They're in the middle of a storm that is expected to leave 2-3 feet of snow. It's snowing there as I write this post. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was in Massachusetts during the blizzard of '78, and it wasn't fun. I lived in Pepperell, an hour north-west of Boston, and we were OK. People in Boston had more problems, though, due to the higher population-density there.

The first picture (below) is from the Costal Run, and the second picture is from trhe Mini Mayhem.

February 7, 2013

Rest Day Today But Went For A "Bike" Ride

Because today was a rest day, I didn't do any running. It was, though, a "red" day, and if I had run, I would have gone to the gym instead of the Jordan River Parkway. Tomorrow is forecast to be a "yellow" day, and Saturday is forecast to be a "green" day. If the forecasts hold true, my next running on Saturday will be at the Parkway.

We're supposed to have rain or snow tomorrow and Saturday. Because of the cold-front coming through, the temperatures will be lower. The high today was 40 (F). Also, the air cleared during the early afternoon, and the inversion was gone by late afternoon. I did go to the gym and rode the bike on two 2.9 mile tours. On the "Lost Trail" tour I set a new PB by 8 seconds. My legs are getting stronger, and I'm able to climb the hills in a higher gear than I used last week. My times are still several minutes slower than the times of the younger persons who also ride the Expresso bike. I'm not pushing for speed, and I keep the bike in the gear that makes it relatively easy to peddle. Because of the hills, I'm frequently changing gears. So far, I've ridden 36 miles.

The first picture below shows the scenery on the Lost Trail tour. The monitor screen has a different aspect ratio, and the picture is higher but not as wide. The additional height shows the path being used. The second picture shows the monitor screen and the bike as seen by the person riding the bike (ignore the scenery that is not part of the bike).

February 6, 2013

Back to the Gym

Today was another "red" day, and my wife and I went to the gym again. I first rode the Expresso bike for a 1-mile warmup (and set a new PB for that tour), and then I ran/walked the indoor track for 30 minutes. I finished with a 2.9 mile tour (Lost Trail) that I hadn't done before. The total time was about 50 minutes. I can tell my legs are getting stronger, because I'm riding faster than I did when I first started with the Expresso bike.

The maximum temperature today was 39 (F). The snow is melting, but the air-quality is bad. Another "red" day and another day at the gym. Tomorrow is forcast to be another "red" day. I won't be running tomorrow, but I hope to get to the gym and ride for 2.9 miles on a different tour.

I saw a neighbor at the gym today, and we talked for a few minutes.

February 5, 2013

Today is Another "Red" Day

Fortunately, today is a rest day from running. I said "fortunately" because we're still in an inversion. I did drive to the recreation center and ride the Expresso bike for 3.4 miles. As soon as I started, I could tell my legs were tired, and I tried to keep the bike in a lower gear to reduce the stress on my legs. That lower gear helped some, but my legs were still tired. After I got off the bike, I walked one lap around the indoor track to cool down from the bike riding.

February 4, 2013

Ran/walked About 1.5 Miles & Rode Bike 2.4 miles

The Salt Lake Valley is still in an inversion, so my wife and I went to the gym again this morning. She walked a mile and then read her book while waiting for me. I rode the Expresso bike for 1 mile as a warm-up, and then I ran/walked about 1.5 miles, using the same ratio of running to walking that I've been using. After I stopped running, I rested for a few minutes while waiting for a guy to finish his bike ride, and then I rode the bike for 2.4 miles on the Rabbit Run tour. As long as the air is bad, I'll keep going to the gym. One thing I don't need in my old age is lung-problems.

While riding the bike, I'm trying to keep in in the gear that allows me to peddle pretty fast without a lot of stress on my legs. However, my legs do get tired :(

The low last night was in the mid 20s (F), and the temperature was 30 when I left home. 

February 2, 2013

Since I ran yesterday, today was a non-running day. I attended a funeral in the early afternoon. Then, I went to the rec center and rode the Expresso bike for 3 miles. I tried not to push myself, so the ride would be good cross-training.

The daytime temperature was 39 (F), and the low last night was about 30. If these temperatures continue, Spring will be coming soon. January is usually the coldest month in Utah, so February may not be too bad. Today was a "red" day, though, due to another inversion taking place. I can still see the Wasatch Mountains, but I can also see that smog is building up.

February 1, 2013

Ran/walked For 30 minutes & Rode Bike For 26 minutes

It has snowed almost every day for the past two weeks. We have about a foot of snow on the ground. We've had several days in which the daytime temperature was above freezing, and between the plowing done by the towns and the warmer days, the snow and ice are gone from the Jordan River path, although the path is quite wet from the melting snow. I ran the Parkway for 1.5 miles. Then, on my way home, I stopped at the community rec center and rode the Expresso bike for 26 minutes (4 miles). The shade temperature was 39 (F) when I left home. Tomorrow will be a "red" day due to a high pressure that is forming another inversion.

I saw a heron flying south above the Jordan River. I don't know if it is the same heron that I've seen several times in the river.